Palau president Whipps calls on UN to include Taiwan


Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr on Tuesday urged the United Nations to allow Taiwan to participate in its system on the first day of the general debate of the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) 76th session in New York.

In his 13-minute address, Whipps Jr thanked Palau’s international allies who came to its aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the United States, Taiwan, Japan and Australia.

Their assistance, including the donations of COVID-19 vaccines, personal protective gear, and testing capacity, allowed Palau to remain COVID-free and COVID-safe, he said.

Currently, over 80 percent of Palau’s total population has been fully vaccinated, and there have been no deaths or hospitalisations from COVID-19, for which the people of Palau are forever grateful, he said.

The Palau leader highlighted Taiwan’s leadership in the global response against the pandemic and its demonstration of “consistent and effective management of the pandemic within their borders,” efforts that extend to Palau.

“Taiwan’s international response facilitated cooperation and implementation of an effective sterile travel corridor between Taiwan and Palau,” he said.

The sterile corridor, also known as a “travel bubble,” has allowed both sides to resume medical, educational cooperation and economic engagement and other benefits of international travel, the president said.

“We encourage the UN system to accept Taiwan as a valuable contributor to our collective efforts and strongly advocate for Taiwan’s participation in the UN system,” he said.

With the world facing major challenges, Whipps Jr called for global unity using an analogy built around a Palau fish, the surgeonfish.

“The surgeonfish represents a unique characteristic. They fish to graze and roam on the reef alone, eating algae, but once danger lurks they all swim quickly from wherever they are along the reef and come together in a large school, resembling an intimidating ocean animal to provide safety and security for all,” he said.

He called on the international community to “act like the surgeonfish and come together, including Taiwan.”

“Taiwan’s 23.5 million people must also be given a voice as our UN charter states,” he said.

“We the peoples all nations working together can overcome the challenges of our time from COVID to climate and act with integrity and resolve to leave a better world for our children,” he said.

The Palau leader spoke on the opening day of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

He was the first leader of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies to spoke at the General Debate, which runs until 27 September.

Presidents of three other Taiwan’s diplomatic allies — Guatemala, the Marshall Islands, and Honduras — will speak at Wednesday’s General Debate.

Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China, left the UN in 1971 when the People’s Republic of China took its place, and has since been excluded from participation in its special agencies.